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Lok Sabha passes amendment bill on OBC Commission

Lok Sabha on Thursday passed an amendment bill to give constitutional status to the OBC Commission negating the amendments approved by the Rajya Sabha

india Updated: Aug 02, 2018 23:02 IST
HT correspondent
HT correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Lok sabha,OBC Commission,bill on OBC Commission
BJP president Amit Shah is greeted by a party leader after a bill to provide constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes was passed by the Lok Sabha on Thursday. (PTI)

The Lok Sabha on Thursday unanimously passed a key bill to provide constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).

The House passed with over two-third majority the Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill 2017, superseding the amendments adopted by the Rajya Sabha.

All the 406 members present in the House voted in favour of the bill after nearly a five-hour-long debate in which 32 MPs, majority of them from the BJP, took part.

The bill seeks to bring the NCBC on par with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.

The passage comes a day after the Union cabinet approved a bill to amend the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act to restore the original provisions of the law. The move followed widespread protests by Dalits groups, opposition parties and the ruling BJP’s own allies over the watering down of some of its provisions.

Home minister Rajnath Singh said the bill will be taken up for consideration and passage in the ongoing session itself. Both the bills are seen as a push by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to consolidate its support among these communities ahead of the Lok Sabha elections next year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was present during the voting, congratulated social justice and empowerment minister Thaawarchand Gehlot for successfully piloting the bill.

The Lok Sabha had on April 10, 2017, passed the legislation and sent it to the Rajya Sabha. However, the Rajya Sabha passed the bill on July 31, 2017, after incorporating the amendments moved by the Opposition and returned it to the Lok Sabha for ratification.

Gehlot said the rules will be framed in a way that one of the members of the commission is a woman. The government was committed to the uplift of the downtrodden and backward classes of the society, he said.

Giving details, Gehlot said a committee under Justice G Rohini had been set up to examine sub-categorisation of OBCs.

The minister asserted that states will have their own list of OBC and can incorporate any caste into the OBC list. However, he added that states will have to approach the Centre for inclusion in the central list.

Taking a dig at the Congress, Gehlot said its members had supported the bill in the Lok Sabha last year but had changed their position in the Rajya Sabha.

Congress members in the Rajya Sabha moved an amendment to clause 3 of the bill seeking to provide for appointment of all the five members of the commission from the OBC community, including a woman and a person from the minority community.

Gehlot said the suggestion for “religion-based reservation” in the composition of the commission was unconstitutional.

Once the OBC commission gets constitutional status, he said 80% of the demands of members will be met. He said the Modi government was trying to bring back reservation in Jamia Milia Islamia varsity and also the Aligarh Muslim University.

Union minister and Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan questioned Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s silence on the dilution in the provisions of SC/ ST Atrocities Act, which was countered by the opposition members.

Tamradhwaj Sahu of the Congress dismissed suggestions that his party opposed the bill. He questioned the delay in bringing the bill, arguing that it will take time to implement the proposed legislation. “Are you doing this keeping election in mind?” asked Sahu.

The amendments moved by Biju Janata Dal’s Bhratruhari Mahtab, were rejected by 302 voting against it and 84 in favour.

NK Premchandran of the Revolutionary Socialist Party claimed this was the first time in the legislative history that the Lok Sabha is amending an amended bill passed by the Rajya Sabha. Some members supported creamy layer but others opposed it.

First Published: Aug 02, 2018 21:23 IST